150 Reasons to Have Pride in 2010

BY Advocate Contributors

May 10 2010 4:00 AM ET

1 PIXEL GIF | ADVOCATE.COM

RASHAAD NEWSOME X560 (DEANA LAWSON) | ADVOCATE.COM

BECAUSE YOU CAN LET YOUR BODY MOVE TO THE MUSIC
While Glee’s Jane Lynch has reminded the country why voguing never goes out of style, another gay iconoclast gave context and a deeper understanding to the dance form. As part of this year’s Whitney Biennial, performance artist Rashaad Newsome (pictured) held a voguing competition—complete with a DJ and judges—and then had a computer produce a line drawing of the performance, effectively turning the spontaneity of the movement into something resembling data. Popularized by Madonna through her 1990 song and video but created in Harlem dance halls years earlier, voguing both mocks and grasps at the old-school glamour found in Hollywood publicity stills and the glossy pages of fashion magazines. Newsome’s African-American subjects pose convulsively, as if an old Rolleiflex is snapping furiously. A flamboyant black man is far from a fashion magazine’s typical subject, both during Hollywood’s golden age and now. And that’s part of the point of Newsome’s work, which also includes photography and collage. In all of his media Newsome works to expose the pressure placed on African-American women to homogenize their appearance and demeanor. At one show he placed a group of seemingly angry black women in front of an audience. Challenging the audience to laugh, the ladies snapped their fingers, moved their necks in a stereotypical fashion, and repeated phrases like “Child, please!” and “Girl!” No full sentences were used, nor were they needed. As Newsome told Time Out New York, “For me, art takes over where words stop.” 

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